It is not just the suburban commuters who are in the danger of losing their lives. The motormen piloting the 2,900-odd local trains don't find themselves in the pink of health either. A host of problems, inherent to the city, are also shooting up the blood pressure, anxiety levels of the city's motormen. dna provides a round-up of these dangers based on the talks this paper has had with several motormen, who as per rules, cannot come on record with the media.
The single largest killer in the suburban system with more than 50 per cent of deaths caused due to people taking their chances at hopping across a set of a tracks with a speeding train. "The moments before you realise your train is going to hit a track-crosser is plain harrowing. You can so easily feel your stomach churning, the blood pressure shooting up, the hands going cold. The sound of bones crushing, the head being punctured or seeing a dismembered body along the tracks are things that stay with you for several days," said a motorman.
Incessant Mumbai rains, or an overhead wire snapping, or any such incident that gets the city's railway stations packed to the brim, is a nightmare for the motorman. "People standing on the edge of the platform make us feel that the sides of the train will knock of some heads. The lingering fear is that at the last moment someone will fall off the edge and come right underneath the train. It is a sickening feeling," said a motorman who regularly plies on the Hrabour line.
Gone are the days, say motormen, when they were greeted with smiles or a handshake by travelling crowds. Today, thanks to the umpteen strikes by motormen and the chaos that descends on the city thereafter, motormen find themselves at the centre of people's ire at stations. The situation has got so bad that the Railway Protection Force has had to paste posters inside trains warning people against making motormen the subject of public anger. "Every passing day, the anger against us just gets more entrenched," said a motormen.
People on mobiles
It is getting to be the single largest concern for motormen. The broad consensus among them is that a predominant number of youngsters crossing tracks are engrossed in their mobiles and the use of hands-free etc sometimes ensures the train's warning horn goes unheard. "We see it all the time especially at stations which have colleges nearby. There have been a few incidents of people dying because their attention was diverted because of mobile phones. In the days to come, it is going to increase," said the motorman.
The Harbour line stretch between Govandi and Masjid is the worst affected with the menace of stunts but it is slowly spreading to other lines as well, observe motormen. "Watching someone perform a stunt in a train passing next to the one you are piloting always makes you feel uneasy," said a Harbour line motormen.